Red Bull Hit the Streets champ JabhiM talks about challenges and going pro
Cape Town - Red Bull Hit the Streets is back this year to crown South Africa’s best fighting game competitors.
Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 competitors will battle it out for a full expenses paid trip to experience Red Bull Kumite in 2021.
For the first time, Tekken 7 has been added to the gaming roster for Red Bull Hit the Streets, alongside Street Fighter V, opening up the competition to more players from the popular gaming franchise to compete against each other.
Online qualifiers will kick off on 6 November 2020. The grand finals will be streamed live on 3 December 2020 on Red Bull’s Twitch page and take place in Bree Street, Cape Town.
Last year, Alexandra’s own Jabhi “JabhiM” Mabuza walked away as the Red Bull Hit the Streets 2019 champion. He represented South Africa at the Red Bull Kumite Last Chance Qualifier in Japan where he had the chance to compete against some of the world’s best Street Fighter V players.
IOL TECH spoke to JabhiM on his journey on becoming pro as well as challenges and highlights.
JabhiM’s journey as a gamer started when he was about six years old, when his father took him to the arcade to play games.
“It became something we normally did until I started going by myself. When I discovered Street Fighter 2, I instantly fell in love with fighting games and started playing any game that resembles Ryu or Ken, characters from SF2. I met a friend who liked fighting games as much as I do and we then started hunting for arcades with good players, dominating whichever township we went to and if we lost we would discuss it and return the next weekend.”
Of course, the life of a professional gamer is not all about glory and does have its share of challenges and obviously highlights. He emphasised that as a gamer, it’s important to not only stay positive but also to be marketable.
“Fighting games aren’t really big in SA in terms of esport level but outside of the continent, you can make a living out of it. So naturally due to less competition teams would not look into it much and T.Os as well.
“It was kind of hard getting that starting point where you feel like your career is getting somewhere. I had a colleague who was an ex-pro-gamer who played League of Legends and asked him a lot of questions on why he quit, what did you do right etc. In 2018 comps started popping up and the highlight of 2019 was winning the biggest one, Red Bull Hit the Streets 2019, from there on I got signed to Goliath Gaming.”
JabhiM said the Red Bull hit the Streets event is almost like a “dream come true” for many players due to the opportunity to travel abroad to compete.
“Since Hit The Streets gives that opportunity, it’s unbelievable. The event itself is something that catches spectators. I mean, where have you seen the finals being played on the streets? And after going to Red Bull Kumite in Japan I understood that these events are the best form of entertainment for the viewers and makes the players feel like esports athletes. Being on the news because of gaming is golden.”
The Alexandra-born gamer said a huge amount of preparation and training is needed to be pro.
“The qualifiers are insane as its more players and the finals are literally the final bosses putting everything on the line for it, showing their passion and dream so it’s not easy to beat them.”
He added he often spent a lot of time checking out his opponents matches. “What helped was coming in with a huge amount momentum since I had just won a few events before the big one. You need to stay calm in any situation which is not easy to do, I almost lost but though it all I stayed compose and managed to pull through.”
Preparation and training aside, JabhiM had a few things to say about aspiring pro gamers.
“First thing is remembering that as much as you want to win tournaments, you need to be marketable. Take tips from pro players outside of South Africa on their gameplay and socials.”
He added that staying positive is key to “make sure you want to go pro on the game you love.”
“Even though the pressure is on me to defend my title, I’m enjoying every moment of training and competing.”